The Farm Bill: What You Need To Know

Between Chicago’s ban on foie gras and New York’s condemnation of trans fats, food policy has spent more time than usual in the news in the past year or so. These issues, however, pale in comparison to the Farm Bill that is currently being debated in the U.S. Congress. Although city folks like us are likely to dismiss anything to do with farms as irrelevant, the Farm Bill, as Michael Pollan recently pointed out in the New York Times Magazine, is actually about the way food is produced in the United States, not simply what happens to farmers. Mouthing Off has a great rundown of Farm Bill resources, but here are the key points from Pollan’s article.

•The Farm Bill, as it currently stands, does “almost nothing to support farmers growing fresh produce” and lends a much greater hand to those growing crops that can help produce processed foods (i.e. corn and soy).
•The Farm Bill decides what will be included in school lunches.
•The Farm Bill affects nearly half of America’s privately-owned land.

Clearly, this is an overwhelmingly important piece of legislation, even for those who tend toward apathy but love their food. We strongly urge you to visit the USDA’s site about the bill and let your legislators know what you think.

You Are What You Grow [Michael Pollan]
Farm Bill Cheat Sheet [Mouthing Off]
2007 Farm Bill [United States Department of Agriculture]

[Photo: St. Louis County]

The Farm Bill: What You Need To Know